Signature Theatre's world premiere of MacArthur Fellow Sarah Ruhl’s Letters from Max, a ritual begins previews at the Off-Broadway venue February 7.
Directed by Kate Whoriskey and based on the book by Ruhl and her former student, the late poet Max Ritvo, the production will continue through March 19 at The Pershing Square Signature Center’s The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre. Opening night is February 27.
The cast features Tony nominee Jessica Hecht (A View from the Bridge, Breaking Bad) as Sarah with Ben Edelman (Admissions, The Gett) and Zane Pais (The Perplexed, Sunday) playing the role of Max on alternating nights.
Ruhl, whose works include Eurydice and Pulitzer Prize finalists In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) and The Clean House, begins her Signature Spotlight Residency with this play, adapted from her and Ritvo's 2018 epistolary book Letters from Max: A, a Teacher, a Friendship. In the book Ritvo openly discusses terminal illness and tests poetry’s capacity to put to words what otherwise feels ineffable.
The play flows between full-hearted letters, poetry, music, and dialogue.
Signature Theatre Artistic Director Paige Evans said in an earlier statement, “This meditative piece about poetry, ritual, and human bonds feels like such a fitting start to Sarah’s residency. It is a personal distillation of elements that are ever-present in her work, and which I am sure we will see in many forms as we produce several plays from her body of work at Signature. It is an honor to collaborate with one of the American theatre’s most imaginative minds, and to begin that work with a piece that brings us so close to the playwright herself. In sharing this correspondence with her dear friend, she gives voice and body to their stunning exchange of words through letters and poetry and honors the legacy of another brilliant writer.”
The production also has scenic design by Marsha Ginsberg, costume design by Anita Yavich, lighting design by Amith Chandrashaker, sound design by Sinan Refik Zafar, projection design by S Katy Tucker, choreography by Warren Adams, props supervision by Joshua Larrinaya-Yocom, and casting by Caparelliotis Casting. Shelley Miles is the production stage manager.